ABQ domestic violence commission makes change to restraining order process

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A confusing systematic change could have put survivors of domestic violence at risk. However, the oversight was caught and corrected by Albuquerque’s new Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Commission.

Advocates say it’s a position no assault or abuse survivor should be placed in. That’s why court documents outlining the serving process for restraining orders raised red flags for Rape Crisis Center advocates.

“One of our case managers had received some paperwork with a temporary restraining order, and approval of a temporary restraining order from the courts,” said Jodie Jaramillo, director of Crisis Services at the Rape Crisis Center of central New Mexico. 

A form that’s been in circulation for nearly a month, saying in red that whomever files a restraining order is responsible for serving it.

“Super concerning for any survivor to think that they have to serve their own restraining order to their offender,” said Jaramillo. 

“The offender could potentially abuse them again, use coercive control to convince them not to go through with it, or also pretend they never received the restraining order. Which then also takes more time for the survivor, they have to take off work, they have to find out where they are,” said Teresa Garcia, chair of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Commission. 

That’s why Rape Crisis Center reps immediately emailed the courts, then reached out to the City of Albuquerque’s new Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Commission.

Jaramillo said the commission set the change into motion before she even got an email back. 

“It was less than 24 hours, it was like to the next day,” said Garcia. 

Before members reached District Court Judge Amber Chavez Baker – who joined the commission back in February – she immediately removed the confusing page from documents given to domestic violence victims in court, and clarified that Bernalillo County deputies would serve their restraining orders.

“This commission is just been a terrific forum to realize that we have the ability to bring about quick change in our county,” Jaramillo said. 

“It’s really nice that we’re working together as a commission, and it working so quickly, and making those changes, and just seeing that success was fantastic,” said Garcia. 

The commission meets once a month. They met this Monday to talk about bringing more voices to the table from Albuquerque Fire Rescue and the disability community.

Second District Court Judge Amber Chavez Baker sent the following to KOB 4:

“When the Commission reached out stating the service of process documents included in those handouts were confusing to litigants and advocates in the DV arena (who do not have to serve the other party because BCSO does that), the Court removed the first page of the documents to avoid any confusion.

This is an example of how the Court works with its justice partners, including members of the DV/SA Commission to serve our community.  Communication and dialogue are key.”

Members say any survivor is welcome and encouraged to join either in-person or virtually, to help create more positive change.